OAKHURST – Richard “Rich” Regert is celebrating 45 years with Farmers Insurance this year, and his wife and business partner, Sharon, now has 25 years with the agency herself.
Regert began his career with Farmers Insurance as an underwriter in 1966, becoming an agent in 1973. His parents both worked for Farmers, so in 1987 he moved to Oakhurst to take over his father’s agency. They now sell auto, homeowners, life insurance and specialty coverage.Rich and Sharon have worked together since he moved to town, and have been married for the last 14 years. Between them, the Regerts have four children, eight grandchildren, and a new great-grandchild.
“Working together is easy,” Sharon says. “It’s like working with your best friend. It’s teamwork. You have the same goals.”
The couple had to rely on that special brand of teamwork when damages from a storm on March 20, 2011, made “our mountains look like a war zone,” Sharon remembers. “Our agency had over 60 claims turned in for damages from trees, snow damage and loss of power.” The agency itself was without power.
“We luckily had a phone that could be plugged in to retrieve all the messages we had on our voice mail with Sierra Telephone,” she says.
Times like that call for patience and compassion, Rich says, because that’s when customers are understandably upset.
“There’s no power, and they’re concerned about food in freezer,” he says. “One house had a tree limb split and went through their home and their neighbor’s home. Two homes, one tree, you need to prevent further damage.”
Insurance companies like Farmers deemed the storm a catastrophe or “cat” claim, and extra adjustors were brought in to handle the high number of claims.
The Regerts employ two licensed insurance agents – Diane Willingham, who has been with the agency for more than 11 years and Gina Casebolt, who has worked with the Regerts for about five years. The group says they gets along very well, and the women have even taken a cruise together to celebrate milestone birthdays.
“We’re very fortunate to have a wonderful staff,” Rich says.
Past president and member of the Oakhurst Sierra Sunrise Rotary, the insurance agent loves to cook. His spouse claims, “he’s known for his bread pudding.”
Rich explains he learned the recipe while watching a chef’s demonstration at the New Orleans School of Cooking.
Upon returning to Oakhurst, 350 visitors to the Rotary Cajun Feed enjoyed the benefits of his trip to Louisiana. Along with fellow Rotarians, Rich has cooked for the Rotary Golf Tournament, Relay for Life and the Crab Feed.